Instant Analysis: Alabama vs. North Texas

David KutschCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 05:  The Alabama Crimson Tide enter the field to face the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In front of a packed Bryant-Denny Stadium, the 4th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide put on a clinic of offensive and defensive execution while totally dominating the North Texas Mean Green to the tune of a 53-7 final.

The outcome of this game was never in doubt and pretty much went as expected.  That said, let's take a look inside the numbers.

Once again the Tide cracked the 500-yard mark, amassing 523 total yards of offense.  Greg McElroy and Co. were as efficient as they could possibly be from whistle to whistle. 

Alabama's offense seemed to be on cruise control all game long, putting up 263 yards passing and 260 yards rushing.  It just doesn't get much more balanced than that, folks. 

The defense was also dominant from start to finish.  They held the Mean Green to 187 total yards (61 rushing and 126 passing) while allowing the lone touchdown late in the third quarter once the second- and third-stringers had taken over. 

The defense didn't register a sack, but they hurried Nathan Tune the entire game and made him throw on the run more often than not.

All in all it was the first full, complete game of the season for the Crimson Tide and it couldn't have come at a better time with the start of SEC competition looming on the horizon.

Ready for the grade outs for each unit?  Here you go.

Alabama offense - Grade: A-

QB Greg McElroy showed everyone why he is the starter today.  He displayed the accuracy of a sniper with his passing, going 13-of-15 for 176 yards and tossing two touchdowns, the first of which was a beautiful, pinpoint ball to Marquis Maze that hit him in stride in the corner of the end zone. 

McElroy, and Star Jackson when he entered in relief, spread the ball all over the field, hitting 11 different Tide receivers.  McElroy also rushed for a score.

Mark Ingram led all rushers with 91 yards on eight carries and a touchdown.  Trent Richardson also added to his totals with 87 yards and a score.  This kid is going to be something in the future, no doubt about it. 

The workhorse, however, was Terry Grant.  He had 19 carries for a solid 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  It was nice to see him getting a lot of playing time and finding himself in the mix for the Tide offense. 

Grant showed good vision and quite a few flashes of the runner he was back in 2007 before he got injured.

The Alabama receivers also had a great day.  As mentioned, 11 different players caught at least one pass.  Marquis Maze and Mike McCoy stepped up with Julio out of the lineup and the rest of the Tide receiving corp did their job, as well.

The line was also stellar, opening many huge holes for Tide running backs to slash through the North Texas defense and giving McElroy all day to find an open man.  I swear I saw Greg grilling steaks in the pocket at least once.

If not for the "fumble" on the first snap of the game (and it only happened because left tackle James Carpenter was beaten badly), this unit would grade out with an A+.

Alabama defense - Grade: A

The defense showed why it is one of the best in the nation, holding North Texas to just 187 total yards, much of which came later in the game while Saban built depth by letting the second and third team players on the field.  

That first team unit is pretty much unbeatable, though.  If they had played the entire game (and there was no need for it), North Texas might never have cracked the 100-yard mark in total offense.

As it was, the Mean Green only averaged 3.8 yards per play and were held to just seven first downs.  A truly dominant performance. 

Let that sink in for a moment.

I hate to sound like I quote a friend (Thanks, Ced!)...drinking the Kool-Aid, but this defense might just be the best unit in the SEC.  Perhaps even the best in the nation.

It appears that Saban finally got a complete game without the bonehead plays and poor penalties from the first team unit.

Alabama special teams - Grade: C+

So Alabama finally addresses the kick off coverage issue (I am ignoring the big one North Texas got, chalking it up to the block in the back to spring the return man and resulted in the play being called back) and then Leigh Tiffin melts down.  Geez!

Tiffin missed two extra points.  They don't get any easier than PATs, people, and Lou Groza Award candidate Leigh Tiffin missed two of them.  In the same game.  I'm going to guess he won't be hoisting any hardware in the post-season.

Javier Arenas was once again electric in the return game.  He had four punt returns for 90 yards and added a kick return for 61 yards.  It is only a matter of time before he takes one back to the house. 

Kid is just flat out amazing.  He would have been perfect if he didn't somehow boot the first punt of the game - before returning it up the sideline for a 22 yard gain.

So the kicking team woes that plagued Alabama didn't show up and the return game was outstanding.  Factor out Tiffin's missed PATs and this unit would have graded out higher, too.  Shanked extra points will kill a score.

Overall - Grade: A-

Running up another 500+ game while stuffing your opponent all day is what Nick Saban is looking for from his Crimson Tide.  The offensive output has been nice but let's wait and see what it does against better quality teams. 

The same goes for the defense.  While I don't think there will be much of a drop off for either unit once SEC play starts, this Alabama has yet to be tested.  How they respond to that test will ultimately decide how far the Crimson Tide goes this season.

In my very humble opinion, if McElroy stays as accurate as he has been so far (and I think he will be) and the defense continues to stuff the run and force teams to throw the ball  (and I again think that they will) then this Alabama squad is on a collision course with the Florida Gators in Atlanta once again.

SEC play starts next week.  The Tide looks to be ready and then some for the rest of the league.  Hopefully, the special teams woes will not continue and Alabama will continue to dominate the rest of their schedule.

Roll Tide!


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